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UPDATED WITH GOOD NEWS: Sales team for independent Canadian book publishers defunded

June 14th, 2012     by Julia Horel     Comments


Today, the Literary Press Group was given word that the Heritage Minister has overturned the decision and the sales force will be funded for this year! I’ll leave this post as an informational post about what indie publishers in Canada do and how precarious their survival is!

The LPG’s statement is here.

xo Julia

Dear Shameless readers,

Some of you may be aware that my day job is in book publishing. I work for the distribution arms of the Literary Press Group of Canada (LPG), an organization of independent Canadian literary publishers that provides advocacy and professional development, as well as operates a national sales team that sells the books published by 47 LPG publishers into the trade: bookstores like Chapters/Indigo,, independent bookstores, school and libraries.

Last week, the LPG got word that the sales force has been defunded by the Department of Canadian Heritage with no warning and no reason. Six of my eight colleagues are being laid off. (My job is safe for now - my company is a subsidiary of the LPG and I have my own funding.)

Why is this bad news for people who don’t consider themselves part of the literary community? Well, indie Canadian publishers are often the first to publish new and up-and-coming authors, some of whom stick with these presses, and some of whom go on to sign with larger houses. Ever read anything by Margaret Atwood? Michael Ondaatje? Jane Urquhart? They all started with independent presses who gave their work a chance to be read.

And indie presses are more likely to publish books that showcase a diversity of voices and perspectives. These are some of the types of publishers who are members of the LPG:

Presses that actively publish queer authors:

By acting as both advocacy group and sales-and-marketing agent for such small independent publishers as Coach House Books and Insomniac Press, LPG has boosted the careers of many an up-and-coming queer author, including journalist Shawn Micallef, mystery writer Anthony Bidulka, playwright Thom Vernon and poet Marcus McCann. - Xtra!

An Indigenous press:

We strive to foster the creative cultural expression of Indigenous Peoples through the publication of beautifully crafted books which involve Indigenous Peoples in all levels of production and by supporting activities which promote Indigenous literary development and the development of Indigenous publishing. - Kegedonce Press, First Nations owned and operated

Feminist presses:

Our aim is to conserve a publishing space dedicated to feminist voices that provoke discussion, advance feminist thought, and speak to diverse lives of women. We have always been particularly interested in ensuring that the voices of disenfranchised and marginalized women are heard and we are committed to working closely with talented, emerging writers. - Inanna Publications
Women’s Press has provided a literary space devoted to ground-breaking feminist writing from women of all backgrounds since 1972—Women’s Press Literary both maintains its backlist and publishes new works that uphold its mandate. Three O’Clock Press continues to publish works that fit with Sumach Press’s tradition of publishing a wide range of dynamic feminist voices, focusing on young adult works that reflect the diversity of Canadian youth— particularly young women and queer-identified youth. - Three O’Clock Press

A leftist/anarchist collective:

Our mandate is to publish a dynamic combination of cultural, fiction, and non-fiction titles with an emphasis on progressive political analysis of contemporary issues, or what the Winnipeg Free Press described as “left-wing politics with a rock-and-roll attitude.” The wide-ranging concerns of ARP are perfectly captured in our recent titles, which explore, among many other subjects, race and rhythm, education, Canadian imperialism, language, foreign policy, and the “Oka Crisis.” - Arbeiter Ring Publishing

Here are just a few great books that have been published by LPG publishers:

Other Tongues: Mixed-Race Women Speak Out Inanna Publications

Dancing On Our Turtle’s Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-Creation, Resurgence, and a New Emergence ARP

Living the Edges: A Disabled Women’s Reader Inanna Publications

Monoceros Coach House Books

Love Medicine and One Song Kegedonce Press

Retribution Three O’Clock Press

Gruesome Acts of Capitalism ARP

No Margins: Writing Canadian Fiction in Lesbian Insomniac Press

This decision by the Department of Canadian Heritage reveals a terribly negative attitude toward the arts and the role of independent publishers in the stories we read and hear.

The LPG has a couple of things people can do to help, including a letter people can send to their MPs. We’re giving this a shot in an effort to reverse the decision. We have to try. If your MP isn’t a Conservative, you can still ask them to exert pressure. Did you know snail mail can be sent FREE to your MP through Canada Post? If you aren’t sure who your MP is, this list can help.

Love and solidarity, Julia

Tags: activist report, arts, bibliothèque

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